When is the best time to transition to toddler bed?
Age 3 is the earliest I recommend transitioning. Why? Because that’s when most children can begin to rationalize and understand the expectation of staying in their big boy or big girl bed. If you have a poor sleeper, and are hoping things will improve by making the crib to bed transition earlier than age 3, more often than not, this results in an even greater challenge.
How to handle changes in sleep due to sickness, both not sleeping and sleeping all the time. Allow your child to sleep as much as he needs when he is ill. Sleep is restorative and a natural healing mechanism. My only caveat to this is to not allow your child to sleep past 4pm - that will likely disrupt nighttime sleep.
If your little one is in bad enough shape that you don’t want to leave him alone at night, if possible, move to your child’s room, as opposed to moving him into yours. Kids who have already learned sleep skills are typically resistant to change in their routines, so don’t be surprised if they ask to be put into their crib. If you notice them pushing away from you, or arching their back towards their crib, it probably means they want to go back to sleep.
Prepare for a lot of nighttime wake-ups. You may offer comfort immediately as opposed to waiting the set amount of time you would normally wait for a typical night waking. You can also implement “quiet time” based on the age of your child. You can have soothing music, blankets, books, etc. on the couch and set the timer for one hour to encourage some low key relaxation.
How to handle daylight savings time changes with minimal impact to your toddlers sleep schedule, while keeping on the same clock routine.
I just posted a blog on this question! Please see my recent blog post.
What is the best type of bedtime routine?
Bedtime routines should last somewhere between 20-30 minutes (not including the night feed if your child is under 1 year). Much longer than this than the transition becomes confusing and leaves your child wondering . . . what is happening here? Less than this and it may not be sufficient to completely wind your child down and trigger the sleep expectation. If your toddler has a hard time with bedtime, try focusing on mellow, low energy, calm activities one hour leading up to the start of your bedtime routine. A bath is always an excellent way to start the routine because it is so completely different than anything else during the day; it’s a surefire way your child can understand that bedtime is around the corner. Keep your routine at the same time every evening and in the same order. Children truly thrive off order and repetition!
An example routine may include:
· Feed (for children under 12 months)
· In Crib or Bed and Lights Out
Tips on moving siblings into the same room
First of all, don’t stress if you have a baby who you’d like to move into your toddler’s room! This is very common and can work out beautifully. A white noise machine will be your best friend. It will drown out the sounds of each kiddo along with household noise. Most children do not wake up from crying - most will actually sleep very loud noises! So, do not automatically assume your baby will wake up your other child. If he does, your other child will likely go right back to sleep.
A good rule of thumb is to stagger bedtimes. This will give you and your partner the opportunity to experience the nighttime routine with one child, put him to bed, allow him time to fall asleep and repeat with the older child.
Another great option for room sharing with young children who cannot tell time is an “okay to wake” clock. This is a clock (many options found on Amazon) that illuminates at a specified time so that the children know it’s okay to come out of their rooms (vs climb into bed with Mom and Dad at 5:30 am). Reward charts, treasure box trinkets, etc. can also be very helpful incentives to your children for sleeping in their own bed the duration of the night.
Handling sleep routines after major transitions like starting kindergarten.
If your child is new to a school environment, the new stimulation and duration may entail shifting bedtime forward. According to the National Sleep Foundation, school age children (6-13 years) need 9-11 hours of sleep. A common bedtime for this age is somewhere between 7:30 and 9pm. Children thrive off repetition and consistency. Have a set bedtime and a set time you do your routine – and be consistent with it nightly and in the same order. One of the best times to connect with your child is also during the bedtime routine. Ensure that you dedicate a solid 20-30 minutes where you can truly connect with your child, ask questions about the day, etc. You will find that more than any other time of the day young children will be open and eager to connecting at this time.
How long should the naps be and at what time? Just out of curiosity...
Nap length and duration changes from newborns to toddlers. A general rule of thumb is below. Naps should be roughly 1-2 hours in length, except for the later evening catnap with newborns which typically last 45 min as a “bridge” to bedtime.
Sample Daytime Schedules: NB – 3 months:
· Wake up: 8:00am – Feed upon waking
· First Nap: 9:00am – Feed upon waking
· Second Nap: 12:00 pm – Feed upon waking
· Third Nap: 3:00pm – Feed upon waking
· Fourth Nap: 6:00pm – Feed upon waking
· Bedtime: 8:00 - 8:30pm – Feed before bed
3 – 6 months:
· Wake up: 7:00am – Feed upon waking
· First Nap: 9:00am – Feed upon waking
· Second Nap: 12:30 pm – Feed upon waking
· Third Nap: 3:30 – 4:00 pm – Feed upon waking
· Bedtime: 7:30 pm – Feed before bed 6 – 12 months:
· Wake up: 7:00am
· First Nap: 10:00am
· Second Nap: 2:00pm
· Bedtime: 7:00pm
12 – 24 months:
· Wake up: 7:00am
· First Nap: 12:30am
· Bedtime: 7/7:30pm
Our amazing sleeper of five years now gets up multiple times after bedtime, is scared alone, and many times ends up in bed with us. I know what my mom would do and that’s not us. She would say pick him up with zero emotion, don’t talk to him or comfort him and take him back to bed. I want to do something that connects more and acknowledges him on an emotional level.
Many times this can signal that the child is craving more attention and connection from the parents during waking hours. I would also ask if something inspired this sudden change of events? New sibling? New school? Other life event? Try scheduling “special time” in the evening so the child gets close, quality one-on-one time with the parents in an activity of the child’s choice.
During the bedtime routine, this is also the opportunity to have deep, connecting conversations and also lovingly communicate the expectation of the sleep situation you desire and the boundaries, and consequences associated if those are not met.
School age children often respond well to an “okay to wake clock” as well as a sticker chart with an earned reward for staying in their bed all night long.